By Grayson Lee Maxwell
Rutherford County Schools
Matthew Rogers is a 16-year-old junior at Smyrna High School – a member of the FFA, wrestler, business owner, and as of June – a bull rider.
In this #RutherfordFaces, Matthew talks about what it takes to be confident as a young business owner and rider.
Q: How did you get started as a young businessman?
A: I’m in the cowhide business. So, I order cowhides from Argentina and Brazil and sell them. I make crafts out of them, resell those. We knew cowhides were coming back in because of the show Yellowstone, so I started investing in them and it ended up going well. Right now, we have cowhide duffels, backpacks, caps, coasters, etc. Apart from the cowhides, I’ve been going to cattle auctions all over and am a ring man in auctions. I’m in a mixture of everything.
Q: Why was joining FFA important to you?
A: With FFA I do livestock competitions – cattle. The last livestock was pigs, sheep… just everything. I’m trying to sign up for a lot more, but that’s what I have going on right now. My family has 100 acres in Kentucky full of cattle, full of longhorn, it is really a kind of family interest. I knew from middle school I wanted to be in FFA because it was my lifestyle.
Q: Tell me about bull riding. How did you get into it?
A: Well, my dad was a bull rider. He rode in high school and college for a few years. Really, it’s been an interest all my life. So, in June we signed a lease and kind of got all that ready. You’re basically signing off saying you understand you could get hurt or injured. That’s what the lease is. We practice in the Shelbyville area and know people in the Chicago area that have helped set me up for it.
Q: What kind of training do you do to prepare for riding bulls?
A: A lot of core training goes into it, and you must have balance. So, we practice riding the machines a lot, then we have trainer bulls we ride. There are all types of lessons to learn balance and how to do everything correctly. Where I train in Shelbyville a lot of guys my age come out and practice. There are all types of kids from Cookeville who I see at auctions who also are training.
Q: What are your plans for after school?
A: I’m thinking I’m going to college for agri-business and business. I’m going to do a double major. Right now, I’ve been getting ready, lining up scholarships through the FFA and working on my own business. MTSU has a good program for agriculture – my brother is in that program right now. You can go read a book and learn how to do things, yet to have hands on experience like what I’m getting now, I’ll be more prepared. I’m also interested in MTSU’s Wrestling club. They’ve watched me at tournaments, so I’m interested in continuing to wrestle there if possible.
Q: What’s the secret to being a good bull rider?
A: Don’t be scared. Be confident in yourself and just have fun with it. You’re not going to do great on every bull, so you just must be confident in yourself.